Hacking Back the Lorapetalum

It is March in North Carolina and after a rather wet and chilly start to the year, the weather has begun to turn a bit milder, which means I was out working in my garden and yard yesterday for the first time in quite a while.

As usual, this started out with coffee on the deck, which led to severe pruning of an overgrown hot lips salvia, cutting back stalks of dormant lantana (which will eventually be dug up and moved), raking out debris, and mowing the grass and liriope.

Once we were done (husband was in charge of mowing), I took a good long look at the front of the house and remembered how much I’d been wanting to cut back the lorapetalum, a poorly chosen foundation planting that had grown far too large and scraggly over the last few years.

If you are not familiar with lorapetalum, it does feature beautiful purple leaves and bloom several times a year. But it usually gets very, very, very big if you do not prune it regularly. By regularly, I mean four times a year. Plus the branches get all twisty and the leaves stick to you when you try to prune. And it’s a very dirty bush and ours had just gotten very sparse on the undersides and very top heavy in terms of foliage. It’s generally been regarded by me as a pain in the ass. I felt it was time.

Husband has been opposed to this for several reasons. First, it would mean the front of the house would be rather bare until new branches grew, or it would be too expensive as there was a 50/50 chance I’d want to rip them out altogether in favor of something different, which would cost some not insignificant amount of money.

But I won out. The time of year is right, and I think he agreed it looked pretty bad, so he grudgingly agreed and, seeing my chance, I grabbed the loppers and the saw and Went. To. Town. For the next hour, I lopped, I sawed, I tossed, and I dragged, Until all that was left were wooden sticks in the ground.

Now, I did not research the exact particulars of the pruning process until the deed was done. And the gardening sites do tsk tsk about how to prune it with care and blah blah blah. But I happen to know that you can hack the shit out of lorapetalum and it does not care – it will come back five times more badass than before – it simply cannot be killed. And on the off chance Thanos is defeated, it just means an opportunity to fill the space with something better. Unless I am really, really in love with a plant, I am generally not afraid to cut it back, dig it up, move it, whatever.

Soon, all the foliage was completely gone, and the front of my house was looking bare my friend. Bare. Left me feeling a little remorseful.

But no worries. I am confident that in a few short weeks, it will be throwing shoots with reckless abandon, just in time for the rest of the spring blooms. And hopefully, having cut it back severely, it will take a little time before it overgrows the space again. Stay tuned.



Categories: Piedmont Gardener

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